By Lindsay Kramer
School kids in Bob Woods’ stomping grounds around Hershey, Pa., had a day off on Monday because it was the start of hunting season there.
The Woods family did some shooting, too, but only with pucks. Woods brought his two sons – Brendan, 15, and Colin, 12 – down to the rink to mess around.
“Oh yeah, we let them go, whirl around,’’ Bob said. “It was kind of a hectic weekend.’’
And the craziness is just beginning.
Woods, assistant coach for the Hershey Bears, was promoted to head coach last week when Bruce Boudreau was tabbed as interim head coach of the Washington Capitals. Woods, 39, becomes the 22nd head coach in Bears history and the first to take over in mid-season since Bill Barber in 1995.
“It’s weird. You go to bed as an assistant coach and you wake up, you’re a head coach, with three-in-three, and you’re playing your archrival (Philadelphia),’’ Woods said.
The Bears took two of those three, so that softened Woods’ abrupt start to his new post. It also helps that he knows something about the expectations that come with the job. Woods, who was in his third season as the Bears’ assistant coach, won two Calder Cups with Hershey – one as an assistant in 2006 and one as a defenseman in 1997.
“There’s always added pressure. It’s a great place to be,’’ Woods said. “Probably the hardest thing for me is you go from being a motherly figure (as an assistant), there to support the guys, now you’re switching roles to where you’re the guy who has to make the tough decisions, drop the hammer. You have to go with your instincts. You can’t second-guess yourself. You process things. You look at them from every angle.’’
Woods got that analytical approach from Boudreau, whom he said is a master at looking at his team’s systems and adapting to the counter-moves of opponents. Woods and Boudreau have a long and winning history together. Besides the Calder Cup two seasons ago with the Bears, Woods was a player-assistant coach under him on a Mississippi team that won an ECHL championship.